TRIGGER WARNING: This post deals with rape and sexual harassment, and may be triggering for some readers.
It’s a big step for gender equality – a woman’s right to serve on the military’s front line. But it seems that the dangers of war aren’t the only obstacle women have to overcome while serving for their country.
Apparently, a woman’s right to fight doesn’t mean that she is treated as an equal in the army’s living quarters, training stations or behind closed doors.
One woman whose niece is considering joining the military has taken to Reddit to ask female soldiers if her concerns about sexual harassment are legitimate. The question now has over 3000 comments – and the answers are confronting.
The biggest word of advice that I have as a female veteran that experienced sexual assault from a fellow soldier is: Know how to get help before you end up needing it and know what is and isn’t wrong. When I joined, the concept of rape was so foreign to me that I couldn’t even label what happened to me for a very long time. It destroyed my sense of self and I was on autopilot for years afterward. Knowledge is power.
Sadly this response isn’t an isolated one.
I enlisted in the navy at age 20 in 2008 I got out in 2012. The navy was a great way to advance my life. I no longer live in the small bumfuck corn field I grew up in and I am paying for a real college without debt.
Sexual harassment was a daily thing. “Female” should never have been an insult. However the perception of women as inferior to men is a very real obstacle.
Yes. I was raped by “friend” who I served with. I carried the secret in shame until separation because I did not want to have to deal with the way the military treats Military Sexual Trauma or deal with it myself. There is an unhealthy attitude toward women in the navy.
It doesn’t matter how attractive she is or isn’t if she’s young there will be a bunch of guys waiting to pick her up. Most will be pretty good guys. She could be the chaste virgin and there will still be someone spreading rumours about what a slut she is.
There was a common theme addressing the inequality between how men and women are treated in the military.
However the perception of women as inferior to men is a very real obstacle. Yup, I’ve been in for 3.5 years now and since day one i’ve been told by everyone – leadership down to my peers – that women are lazy, sleep their way to the top, get pregnant to get out of deployments, or go crazy. We’re all sluts and bitches and “oh the Navy was so much better when females weren’t around.”
It’s really tough to look past all that and do your job effectively. I’m in a technical job, and my work center is primarily guys. It’s very difficult to be taken seriously or ignore the comments they make. I’m looking forward to the day i get out and sure as hell will not re-enlist.
To the women that can make it work, you must be stronger than i am, because i do not want to put up with this anymore. I tried reporting harassment before and faced bad reprisal. Now i just keep my mouth shut and head down and try to ignore the “cold hearted bitch” comments and do the job the Navy hired me to do.
Some had stories from when they enlisted as a young teenager.
I was sexually assaulted when I was enlisted at age 17. He was an officer. I reported it, in fact, several other females reported similar behavior. We went to court and we lost the case as it was our word against his. After that whenever I was sexually harassed while in the military, I harassed the perpetrator right back.
Men joined the conversation too, not denying the horrible sexism in the military.
I’m a guy and spent 4 years in the army. Every woman who refused to be a slut was called a lesbian… Very awful environment….I knew one woman who actually said during a party after one week in unit, “Ok, who am I fucking tonight?” She slept with a guy that night and then spent the rest of the next day arguing with her boyfriend back home.
Just young kids being dumb and young with almost no supervision.
It also has nothing to do with leadership. The leadership have almost zero control on the matter. Education doesn’t change anything either. Segregation might do it – but even then, sexual harassment finds a way.
We doubt these were the answers anyone was hoping for.
If you or anyone you know has been the victim of a sexual assault. Help is available. Call the National Sexual Assault, Domestic, Family Violence Counselling Service 24/7 on 1800 737 732. Bravehearts are another organisation that help the victims of child sex abuse. You can find more information about them here.